Spice Girls
Spice


4.5
superb

Review

by Daniel Incognito EMERITUS
October 5th, 2006 | 47 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sing to me of the girls, Muse, the girls of spirit and power driven to the top of the charts, for their exploits deserve the recognition of your true nobility!

It is usually thought that it is easier to look back and analyse the past than to comment on the present and make predictions for the future. Looking at the Spice Girl’s debut album Spice, it is easy to see that one side clearly has an opinion well off-base. Whereas at the time, it was so easy to give in to the hype; now those same girl power members have turned on the Spice Girls. In modern day society, the Spice Girls have an incredibly negative stigma attached to them. There are those that refuse to acknowledge their Spice Girls adoration phase, and then there are some who do not despise their past pop addictions. But even these people largely refuse to acknowledge that these past addictions had any musical merit. Society seems to have rested on the view that Spice and Spice World were nothing more than gimmicks, and certainly not quality albums. With such contrasting opinions, somebody sure has to be wrong.

Of all the musical artists to have carried a feminist message of inspiration in their music, none have done it stronger than the Spice Girls. Sure, artists like Cyndi Lauper and Aretha Franklin taught men to show a little more respect. And with no intention of demeaning their achievements in bringing the feminist message to the mainstream, they didn’t even touch on the impact of the Spice Girls. In 1996, Britain felt the force of the Spice Girls and their girl power movement. As an act of marketing genius, the girl power movement targeted the largely untapped pre-teen girl audience with a message stressing the importance of strong, loyal unity amongst females. The lively bubble-gum pop of the Spice Girls embodied a gender not willing to lie down, and their debut single Wannabe acted as a proverbial kick in the pants for male chauvinists worldwide. “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta make it last forever.”

If one band were to ever act as a missionary in convincing boys to jump gender trains, it was the Spice Girls. Many today would argue that the target audience was pre-teen girls, yet the impact of Spice was felt amongst the male gender as well. Boys around the world flocked to the album, and generally flocked to one of the Spice Girl identities. The identities that were attributed to each member attracted both genders equally. Whether it be Posh Spice, Baby Spice, Sporty Spice, Scary Spice or Ginger Spice; everybody had a favourite. Who this favourite member was did not usually rest on their musical merit. Nevertheless, each member had their own clear role within each song that usually conformed to their identities, most clearly felt in Who Do You Think You Are. With an absolute dynamite chorus harmonising the girls voices, Who Do You Think You Are still feels relevant today. The beat jumps around exuberantly, with enthusiastic trumpets creating a party within the music. Each girl excels in their solo-lines, Sporty Spice especially provides delicious contrast with her loud and spirited lines coming in after the girls’ harmonies. Whereas other pop music can feel generic, copied and lacking in emotion; the Spice Girls bounce about with unbridled enthusiasm. The production of the album is done with all the gloss and sparkle that you’d expect, but the producers haven’t damaged the animated vocals of the girls.

A common criticism of the Spice Girls is that their music is lacking in meaning or emotion. Many have described it by the term ‘bubblegum’ pop, sugar filled but with no real protein. The term can be used simply to describe light-hearted fruity pop music, yet it is often used in a negative context. It is in this negative context that the Spice Girls do not fit. Many would assert their music is shallow, and whilst their latter two albums could be labelled this in part, Spice offers no such lack of genuine emotion. The girls sing with heartfelt emotion in Mama, their somewhat amateurish singing is brought up and pushed along by the production crew, harmonising nicely into a stirring pop hook. A choir comes in later on echoing the girls, and adding fullness to the music that the girls’ shaky vocals can’t do on their own.

It is easy to see the production crew pulling the girls along in songs such as Naked and If U Can’t Dance. A few of the high notes in If U Can’t Dance feel quite forced, with some of the girls struggling to reach their targets. But it is in the girls’ amateur workmanship that vivid emotion is felt. Their naivety brings with it a lack of polish, but also an abundance of exuberance. Whilst professionalism is always appreciated in music, the Spice Girls’ incredibly contagious spirit makes Spice a joy to listen to. It is this wide-eyed eagerness that time and again brings an atmosphere that makes the songs what they are. In Love Thing the girls sing with subtle styling, sometimes putting emphasis on certain consonants; then contrasting it with soft harmonised vocal melodies. The girls and their quite dissimilar voices add great texture when harmonising, creating a nice wide band of sound. The producers must be credited with utilising the girls perfectly and covering up their lack of vocal virtuosity. But the bulk of the credit should be given to the girls themselves.

The slower songs on the album are like countless other pop albums, one too many. Just like the live nude performance of Naked, musically the song is a bit of a let down. Baby Spice’s delicate singing provides the only highlight on the song, as the repetitively purrs “Naaakeed.” Likewise 2 Become 1 feels slightly awkward at times, with Sporty Spice sounding uncomfortable in her more melodic role (rather than belting it out with vigour). If anything can be called ‘dated,’ it would be these slower tunes. They may have been totally appropriate in their day, yet today they just distract from the bubbly party going on in other songs. There are no real filler tracks on the album, all 10 songs bring something quantifiable. Yet one would be forgiven for zoning out in Naked and 2 Become 1.

A decade later it is easy to see that most do not see the Spice Girls debut album Spice as a landmark. The cultural, social and musical revolution that enthralled the world is now largely laughed at. They defined a decade in two and a half years, and were tossed aside in a fraction of that time. Like many others that followed them, they peaked with their debut album. Spice came before the glitz and glamour could influence them: the Spice Girls were still just 5 girls who were streetwise, ambitious, outgoing and determined. In Spice they defined the word spirit, bringing bucket loads of it in the form of irresistible pop hooks. They captured the world, hook, line and sinker. But now that the world has broken free from their spell, it has done so with a vicious bite. Despite the biased memories of those targeted long ago during the Spice Girls’ reign, Spice still offers an unrivalled experience. Few pop albums offer an experience on the same level as Spice, it was the Thriller of the 90s, it quite literally spiced up 90s mainstream music. They had the strength and spirit to empower young females worldwide, and at the same time convinced young males to throw aside their masculinity for a few moments. Socially, culturally and musically; Spice truly did make the 90s a decade to remember.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
bicepman4000
October 5th 2006


246 Comments


Pop (especially girl/boy groups) = throw away music that no-one will listen to 2 years later. Here is a prime example.
Good review, although you didn't really justify giving it 4.5... if anything by highlighting the girls flaws you contradict your rating.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 5th 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm still listening to Thriller 20 odd years after it was released.

And as I showed in the review, any lack of vocal talent is more than made up by spirit, help from the producers etc. I don't think it wise to focus in on their vocal talent either from a listening standpoint. If you listen to the music as it should be listened to, then vocal talent means very little.

Zebra
Moderator
October 5th 2006


2647 Comments


"Wannabe" is hot stuff. Unfortunately I've only heard the singles and I think it's best that I leave it that way. Great review.

Damrod
Moderator
October 5th 2006


1093 Comments


Grade A material as always Liberi :thumb:

I remember that my sister brought with her on our vacation in France a couple of years ago. It has some decent songs that are enjoyable every now and then, nothing I would listen to all the time though. It's simple "have a good time music" for me, easy lsitening. For example nothing as demanding as Fall of Troy, where you get a headache while trying to work while it's playing. Just... too demanding.

Muisee
October 5th 2006


679 Comments


I think I have to agree with Bicepman. Thriller is pop done right, this group was just a throw away pop group that 10 year olds could sing along to. But, great review.

However, I am not saying all pop is worthless, but IMHO, this group is.This Message Edited On 10.05.06

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
October 5th 2006


3781 Comments


Killer review man! Heh, I never gave it much thought, but you're right, the Spice Girls really did dominate alot of the 'fun' spirit of the 90's.

pulseczar
October 5th 2006


2385 Comments


Great review, but the 4.5 rating just comes off as if you gave it that for the sake of being bold.

Kage
October 5th 2006


1172 Comments


[QUOTE=pulseczar]Great review, but the 4.5 rating just comes off as if you gave it that for the sake of being bold.[/QUOTE]
This is exactly what I think.


morrissey
Moderator
October 5th 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'd have to disagree with your rating, the record is incredibly fun and frivolous, and the entire idea of the Spice Girls, from the "Girl Power!" to the personas to the chewing gum is downright genius, but the music isn't legendary. Taking the music on its own merit, it's just not that great.

Aside from the singles and "Who Do You Think You Are", there aren't any dynamite songs on here. That being said, "Wannabe" and "Say You'll Be There" are songs for the ages.

But stellar review as always.

morrissey
Moderator
October 5th 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

[quote=me]The Spice Girls music isn't meant to be analysed or interpreted for deeper meaning. If anything, the music is just a corollary for their merchandise and image, which is what they were really selling. But if you ignore artistic integrity (or lack thereof), there are capable pop songs here which fulfil their function of supplying a fun, cheesy time for all. [/quote]
This is from my Spiceworld review, and it also summarises my feelings on this album.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 5th 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, but the 4.5 rating just comes off as if you gave it that for the sake of being bold.

This is an album that defined mainstream music for the 90s. I gave it a 4.5 based on its impact. I didn't rate it entirely on musical merit, I took note of the movement as a whole. If I were to rate it entirely on music, disregarding their whole persona, then I'd probably give it a 4. But I feel that their whole identity is very much a part of the music. This Message Edited On 10.05.06

Roscoe
October 5th 2006


29 Comments


Outstanding review. I've only heard singles from most groups like this, but I'm somewhat intrigued about this one now.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 5th 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Um, I pretty much disagree with everything you said. I think their message was ahead of their time, but it too quickly became apparent that it was someone else's message and they had no intention of living up to it. Although I know all the words to half of the songs, I couldn't possibly describe the album as "good" in any meaningful way.

I agree with what you're saying, but I felt Spice had integrity. It was produced before their intentions started becoming less honourable and more fame-hungry.

bicepman4000
October 5th 2006


246 Comments


Then I think you rated it poorly. (to Liberi)
I'm not sure all of you album ratings have taken into consideration influence within the genre, influence within the decade, "fun factor", member personas, record company brainwaves/money made. Shouldn't an album's rating be based on its musical merit and the talent of the members? Tool (granted the different genre) consistantly gets rated 5's because of the vocals, drumming and bass lines despite their albums having overly long and boring songs and pointless filler.
As far as pop goes, Michael Jackson in his prime is in a different league to the Spice Girls, N'Sync, the Backsteet Boys, New Kids on the Block and many others which escape my mind because of their lack of originality.This Message Edited On 10.05.06

bicepman4000
October 5th 2006


246 Comments


Wow a lot happened while I was typing that.
There wasn't anything missing because there was nothing else to say. My point was his rating is 4.5 but his comments pointed to a completely different scoreThis Message Edited On 10.05.06

Roscoe
October 5th 2006


29 Comments


[quote=bicepman4000]Shouldn't an album's rating be based on its musical merit and the talent of the members? Tool (granted the different genre) consistantly gets rated 5's because of the vocals, drumming and bass lines despite their albums having overly long and boring songs and pointless filler.[/quote]
An album's rating should be based on how the reviewer or rater feels about it, and it should be accepted as a legitimate rating as long as they back it up with reasons as to why they think it is worthy of such a rating.

bicepman4000
October 5th 2006


246 Comments


And I don't think the reasons are there to justify a 4.5. He said they can't sing! How can that be a 4.5?

Roscoe
October 5th 2006


29 Comments


[quote=Liberi]And as I showed in the review, any lack of vocal talent is more than made up by spirit, help from the producers etc. I don't think it wise to focus in on their vocal talent either from a listening standpoint. If you listen to the music as it should be listened to, then vocal talent means very little.[/quote]

[quote=Liberi]This is an album that defined mainstream music for the 90s. I gave it a 4.5 based on its impact. I didn't rate it entirely on musical merit, I took note of the movement as a whole. If I were to rate it entirely on music, disregarding their whole persona, then I'd probably give it a 4. But I feel that their whole identity is very much a part of the music.[/quote]

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 5th 2006


1588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think they were just whores to be honest.

:eek: How dare you call Baby Spice that! :mad: *packs a sad*

Shouldn't an album's rating be based on its musical merit and the talent of the members? Tool (granted the different genre) consistantly gets rated 5's because of the vocals, drumming and bass lines despite their albums having overly long and boring songs and pointless filler.

You want musical merit, listen to the skills of the producers. We all praise the skills of Kanye West as a producer, so we should be able to praise the producers of Spice.

but his comments pointed to a completely different score

I just really can't see that. I feel like I pointed towards a rating of 4-4.5. I recognised their lack of vocal talent, but I showed why this means little. But if you guys don't feel I've justified a 4.5 rating, then maybe I should go about a re-write (to convince your stubborn minds :P).This Message Edited On 10.05.06

bicepman4000
October 5th 2006


246 Comments


I don't know how to quote, but from me...

I'm not sure all of you album ratings have taken into consideration influence within the genre, influence within the decade, "fun factor", member personas, record company brainwaves/money made. Shouldn't an album's rating be based on its musical merit and the talent of the members?



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